Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cracking the poached egg, finally

A poached egg has long been my favorite way to eat a breakfast egg. Fried is too greasy (most days); scrambled is good at home, but if you're eating out prepare to eat rubber. Same goes for omelettes... add in overcooked veggies and it can really be a mess.

But the thing about the home-poached egg is those whites. What to do about those stringy and roaming-about-the-pot whites? There's advice to add an acid (small amount of vinegar or lemon juice) to the water, but I've had little success with that really helping. And those poaching pods are a nice attempt, but really don't quite do the egg justice. (The whites can still get either rubbery or not completely set up, and I'm not fond of the perfectly round look when it slides out--almost seems unnatural. I know, picky picky.).

Just this morning, early early, I was reading and saw a post from Michael Ruhlman linked to by Jason Kottke. (Have to give credit for the find--if you don't know, you really should. He scours the web so you don't have to, and presents a number of interesting tidbits every day ranging from technology to popular culture. Definitely one to add to the feeds.)

Anyway, back to Mr. Ruhlman. (Here's his post.) The upshot is that he's produced a slotted spoon that, if you crack an egg into it, will eliminate that part of the white that is watery, leaving "good" white behind with the yolk, which will make for better, easier poaching. My initial thought was, yeah, right. I have spoons like that (by Martha Stewart) in my drawer already, what would be special about his spoon, given that it is $27? So upon truly rising a couple of hours later, I decided poached eggs would have to be on the menu this morning.

So Ruhlman's idea is spot on, happily. Eliminating that watery part of the white makes for a much more beautiful and less far-flung (his word is flyaway, I like it) poached egg. And, in the process I did discover that Martha's spoon is too small to really hold the yolk and "good" white; the first egg I cracked into her spoon slid right off and into the small bowl I had positioned beneath the spoon (thankfully). I made do with a larger food-service slotted spoon from the catering days, and it did the trick nicely.

I had some leftover black bean and corn salad in the fridge and warmed the mixture up before putting the poached eggs on top. Seth had been adamant that he wasn't hungry-hungry and was going to have a bowl of cereal... until he saw my creation. So I surrendered the first bowl quite graciously and continued with my egg experimentation.The next bowl turned out just as lovely, and a new poached egg tradition has been solidified for me. I am thankful that I have my big slotted spoon, as I wasn't really in the mood to shell out for Ruhlman's special spoon, and I have a feeling that if you have a bigger-than-normal slotted spoon around, it would work for you too!

Happy breakfasting!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday night grateful list

Friday nights... Oh how I love Friday nights. Especially when the fireplace is lit, the table is set for family supper, and my men are with me. Happy me.

This week I'm grateful for:

Visiting friends. Even if said friend was packing up her house to move south PERMANENTLY. That part sucks. But getting to see her multiple times this week? Sweet.

A wee bit 'o snow. Certainly not the dump I was looking for, but I'll take what I can get. And with the cold we've been having too, it's noisy snow. I usually think of snow as creaking and squeaking, but this snow is moaning, I swear it is.

My men. Each in their own way, they let me know I'm loved. Bliss.

My favorite gray sweater. I have a "problem," wherein I get an item of clothing, and it becomes THE item of clothing for that season. I might as well not have a closet full of clothes, because all I'll wear is this one obsession. This season it's a bargain Eddie Bauer Outlet gray cardigan, and I wear it almost every day. If you've seen me since January, I've probably been wearing it. I love it, and the week it was at the dry cleaners was the worst week of the winter. (Well, that might be overstating it a bit, but you get my drift.)

Cut hyacinths to signify spring is on the way. Who knew you could get them at the grocery store? Not me; usually they are potted and much more expensive. I know it's odd that I dream of winter (snow) and spring (flowers) in the same breath, but that must just be part of the glorious mystery and contradiction that is me. And these particular contradictions smell so lovely!

My computer. It's home and in one piece... now to restore it back to its former glory will take a bit of work and transferring of this and that, but I'm just happy it is home!

Crochet... finally, a picture of a few of my squares... I have been working with a dozen colors, in all kinds of configurations. It's a bit wild, but I think it will come together in a beautiful cacophony! (Or not, I'll keep you posted.)

Inspiration from other crochet hounds. Take a look at this wonderful project, someone who is doing a square a day... 365 squares, not unlike the photography project called 365. Clever. And beautiful. I just love how each square is photographed on a background, so artfully arranged.

Isn't that just so impressive? There are some other crochet links that I will share, later. So much inspiration.

Memories, childhood happy memories. My mom has been on a scanning binge lately, going through old pictures and scanning them or, heavens!, tossing the bad ones. Here's one she found and sent to me. It's of my brother (at top, a little River Phoenix in the making), myself (in the treehouse, arms crossed, oh yeah!) and our cousin Greg (striped shirt, thinking how the heck did I let these two talk me into climbing this tree?). Maybe circa 1975? Don't we look all kinds of Stand By Me? Yeah, I think so too. Way cute.

Time. The stories of those for whom life has been cut short are never far away; each week I seem to hear of someone at least loosely associated with my social circle who has passed. I am so grateful for the time I've had already on this planet, and while I don't plan on going anywhere any time soon, I'm also grateful for the faith that sustains me and tells me that it would be alright anyway, and I'd see you again soon... (See Ma, that's a little depressive realism for you. Seth would be proud.)

Words. Specifically, poets and their way with words. My girl crush on Mary Oliver continues... “And that is just the point… how the world, moist and beautiful, calls to each of us to make a new and serious response. That’s the big question, the one the world throws at you every morning. “Here you are, alive. Would you like to make a comment?” - Mary Oliver

I hope the weekend brings you everything you need to rest up and get ready for another week. If you are near and dear to our family, know that you're in our thoughts and prayers. Actually, even if you're not... We pretty much cover the gamut around here, people-wise, in our prayers, so if you're currently on earth, breathing, we've prayed for you. If that offends you... well. You'll get over it. :)

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thursday 13: Thursday randomness

There's really no other option today, but to go random. It fits my life in so many ways!

1. There's a rumor of snow (amend that: it's actually snowing RIGHT now!) I am hopeful that we'll see some real stickage here in the next 24-48 hours. Not much could make me happier than to have one last real snowfall for this winter. I'm super-jealous of all my friends on the other side of the mountains who had snow days on Wednesday, and got to build snowmen; I saw a picture of a snow "person" in a bikini. How awesome!

2. The hours with Seth after school, doing homework and chatting while I cook dinner or just hang out... these are some of my very favorite hours. I don't take it for granted--for many years I wasn't at home for the after-school time, and I am so grateful for the flexibility to do so now. Thank you, husband.

3. I have real issues with dead animals on the road. I think a piece of our collective soul withers a little bit every time we drive past an animal that has met its demise on the road. There must have been a time when someone would stop and pull a dead animal into the ditch or, God forbid, bury it. When did that time end? We've had quite the run of possum deaths out by where we live, lately. And if you assume that I'm still driving by and not stopping to do a proper burial, you'd be correct. But still, it bugs me.

4. All of our dogs have extremely clean teeth right now. Yes, we participated in National Dental Month (who knew?). And yes, they give lectures to owners of dogs on doggy oral hygiene. Good grief. So now not only do I get the joy of guilt over my own oral neglect (flossing... flossing...), but I can feel guilty about the pups too. Sweet. Because I'm dying to stick my finger in their mouths, daily. ("You don't have to do it EVERY day, just two or three times a week." Oh, that sounds SO much better.)

5. My computer finally gave up the ghost... so to speak. I was in desperate need of it to behave until after the fund-raiser I was helping out with took place, which was last Wednesday. I didn't want to have to deal with needing documents that were only on an external hard drive with no real practical way to print them... It was almost like the computer just knew when I wasn't in dire need, and promptly just said, "I quit. You've been asking too much of me for some time, and I'm just going to lay down and take a nap." So, I am blogging from the iPad and (knock on wood) my computer is being worked on, and hopefully it will be back and running smoothly soon. Cross your fingers... this has been a sketchy laptop from the moment of install, seriously. Might just be a bad egg...

6. Ever watch a train wreck happening from afar and not really be in a position to affect it? Facebook is one of those places where people seem to bring their train wrecks right into your space. Choo-choo, people. (And, no, I'm not talking about you. Really.)

7. If my computer hadn't died, I really would have posted granny square crochet pictures by now. I am loving the yarn therapy, and my fingers aren't in pain. Sweet! The colors, the stitches, can't wait to join them all together into hexagonal heaven.

8. I really tried to give Lady Gaga the benefit of the doubt for a while, but I'm over that now. This isn't a judgement of her music. Lord knows I'll have her catchy tunes going through my head, appropriate lyrics or not. I'm talking about HER. And her nonsense. There's really no other word for her brand of performance art. Seriously, an egg? A bacon dress? Little horns on her face? What really kills me is the media treating her like she has something significant to offer. I don't know why I'm surprised; these are the same people who think The Hills people have something to say, or each crazy lunatic that's voted off ____________ (fill in the blank with whatever reality dreck you can think of) should get their 15 minutes too. I know, I know, she's done more for fashion blah blah blah. Doesn't mean I have to pay attention.

9. This is turning into 13 rants... lovely for you, eh? My next rant is about decorating... how did St. Patrick's Day turn into a decorate-able holiday? Really. I mean, I only recently became a Thanksgiving decorator (understandable, what with it being our anniversary and having leaves and gourds and such galore), of course I get the joys of Christmas decorating, and I can even be known to put out a fuzzy heart or two for Valentine's Day. But St. Patrick's Day? Nope, not going there. Big green shamrocks, no thanks. Maybe, just maybe, I could be cajoled into a real shamrock plant. Maybe. But rows and rows of green stuff at the "stuff"marts... not even walking down those aisles. On my internal holiday decorating calendar, I head straight to spring/Easter from Valentine's. I know, this isn't really consistent with #1 (frequently declared love of snow), but I can handle these mutually exclusive concepts coexisting. I hope you can too.

10. Apparently my disdain of decorate-able holidays extends only to paper goods and cute crap. My love of holiday marshmallows remains strong, long past the green tree marshmallows and red star marshmallows of Christmas. I found strawberry pink marshmallows at the grocery store today and bought two bags. Two. And felt the need to explain to a bewildered lady that I had to reach past that "these really are quite yummy." Her "whatever" look did not deter my glee. Also at same grocery store, saw two old men shopping together. One was on a scooter, the other one was walking away from him with his index fingers in his ears. I wanted to give him a pat on the shoulder; I feel like that some days.

11. I am in love with the TV show "Parenthood." I haven't been able to watch an episode yet without tearing up. It's usually the sweet boy Max who does it to me, or some interaction between him and his family. So precious.

12. I have been spending quite a bit of time thinking about how to help Seth navigate the world through the disappointment and challenges that are inevitable. How to balance between the need to see things realistically (he calls it "depressive realism," which I'm not particularly fond of) with the hope and optimism that I personally find necessary to get up and put one foot in front of each other through the tough times. The delicate balance. We have good conversations about it, and I'm grateful, so grateful, for a son who is thoughtful about these things. I can't help but think how good it is for him to have to deal with some of these issues earlier rather than later, especially that he can communicate about these things... the bubble bursting at 30+ years of age is a little late for some of these developments.

13. I have been spending quite a bit of time on Etsy lately. Not buying, though I do see loads of things I adore and would love to add to my "pretties" collection... just researching and looking around for ideas for my own crafty ventures... I love that small businesses have an opportunity to thrive online through this collective community. Yeah for creativity!

That's it from the random pile. Hope this Thursday finds you enjoying life, no matter which side of the challenge balance you currently find yourself.

For more Thursday 13s, visit

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sweetest boy is home, snow's a'coming (please), computer's dead (sorta).

(So, short posts at best, for a bit.)

Location:Ten-word Tuesday

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday night grateful moment

I have a week bit 'o guilt about not posting much this week... not even on Valentine's Day, with our yummy dinner and especially yummy dessert (which I will post soon!). Ten Word Tuesday hardly counts, no matter how wise the words are... It was, indeed, a whirlwind week. But finally, after the busy-ness wound down, we have arrived at Friday night, with all the peace and rest that that implies. Ah.

As I was catching up on my Google reader feeds--yes, behind on those too--I sensed a trend of thankfulness. I thought I would share a few with you as my thankful list this week. I am indeed thankful (shocking, I know!) when I run into gratitude anywhere, and the web is a great place to share it.

I met Rachel through Thursday 13, and her posts are always filled with fun and sports (she's a big big Texas Ranger fan) and love of family. Her Thursday 13 this week was all about thankfulness. Nice.

This post from A Design So Vast made me a laugh, in an all-too-familiar way...she wrote a letter to her body for all that she's thankful for... and a number of things she's not.

At Coming Home to Roost, Bonnie posted a visual (see above) of a thankful list she found at an Etsy shop. I love it! She put her own list in the comments of her post--check it out. And take a look around Laura George's Etsy shop too. Very cute.

My own mom and dad have thankful lists they post from time to time. Ma's most recent thankful post was about memories, and included a sweet sweet picture from the past. Pa's most recent post was less thankful (more like, UN-thankful), about the diminishing size of available artichokes in their grocery store. No one gets between that man and his artichokes! But still, he's thankful for the artichokes themselves, right Pa?

Meg over at Whatever is always an inspiration to me with her rainbow ways and crafty cheer. Her post about being featured in an upcoming magazine and the thankfulness she has for that... awesome! The title of the post is "I am Constantly Surprised." I can relate to that--in both the good and the not-so-good of life.

Two blogs I follow--Sara at What's On My Mind and Typical Libra--both recently posted a Daybook entry, which always, of course, includes the "I'm thankful for..." line.
Sara: I'm thankful for... a dad that will spend almost 3 hours in stand still traffic on an iced-over highway to come pick me up from my dorm and bring me home just because he doesn't want me to drive.
Typical Libra: I'm thankful for...the warmth in my living room. I know it is a simple thing but this winter warmth is pretty big deal!

Positive Thoughts; a blog with that name is bound to have some gratitude, right? This recent post reminded me of the days when I have had to start with the basics of thankfulness and build from there.

I really enjoy Sarah's writing, and her post just yesterday, Right Here, Right Now. about living in the moment and being grateful for each day was a nice reminder to take life day by day.

So these are a few places I saw thankfulness this week. What about you? Where did you see thankfulness? And what are you thankful for on this Friday night?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday night grateful moment

 For dear friend Sara, who lost a kitty friend this week. source

This week has been such a blur that it was with a bit of a jolt that I just realized that it IS indeed Friday night. Whoosh. (And this is after the traditional Friday night haystacks dinner, so you really know I'm a bit kerfluffled if that's the case.)

But darn if I'm going to let this tradition slide. I'll be scrawling my grateful list as I'm carted off to the looney bin, I'm pretty sure of that!

*A week with Seth around? Always a good week. So he's right at the top of the grateful list.

*And husband, sweet husband. Tis true that every week with him in it is remarkable as well... he is indeed my Valentine. I am very thankful for his true love ways.

*I'm thankful for old friends. I had coffee with a friend from high school today. We weren't particularly close in high school, but reconnected at our 20th reunion and via Facebook and it was so nice to sit down and see that we have much in common in our thinking and responding to the universe. I truly could have visited with you for hours, Shari. Thanks for making the time.

*I'm thankful for new friends. Well, not new new. But newer than 25 years! Had my girly lunch group today, going on a couple-few years with this particular clan and they each brighten my day in their own unique way. I am blessed.

*And lest my bases not be completely covered, I'm grateful for ALL my friends. Near, far, wherever you are. (Tell me I'm not the only one who finds that funny?) Email, text, phone, in-person visits, Beth Moore study gals, neighbors... and FAMILY. Grateful to bits and pieces for my family. I realize how blessed I am, every day, to have my family safe, healthy and happy. My little family here with our dear extra family 20 acres over... my parents on Mayne Island... brother and family on their own island (what is it with Goerlitz's and islands?)... aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces... when you add it all up, it is quite the wild bunch of people. I'm grateful for you all.

*I'm grateful for the sunshine. What a jolt of loveliness we had this week with a couple of sunny--really almost blinding!--days. A true treat, and a promise of spring to come. 

*I'm grateful that the house is back to normal and that we can focus on anything other than THAT dang leak from last fall. I still have PTSD when I hear water running... (I'm not making light of post-traumatic stress, really I'm not. But the heart racing, where is the water running, what will be ruined? That's real. Crimeny.)

*I'm grateful for reminders (see below). Some days I feel like I am reminded and reminded and reminded, and still I have to work at being outside of myself, thinking beyond myself. Dang it, such work for some of us kittens. Yes, kittens on the brain tonight...

*I am also grateful for a more sentimental kind of reminder... My mom posted a sweet picture of Seth and Grandpa on her blog this week. It brought back some happy memories of those early Seth days... The picture below is not Seth, of course, but when I saw it this week I instantly thought of the many hours Seth spent in his Halloween panda costume, watching National Geographic's panda video... very sweet and sentimental memories indeed. (I was thinking ahead to Seth freaking out about me posting a picture of him in his panda costume... so think Seth's face, that outfit.)

 *I am grateful for humor. I love to laugh, and I am grateful to anyone who can make me laugh. I am also grateful when I have the good sense to be able to laugh at myself and not take everything So. Pathetically. Seriously. I learned a new phrase just last night: Extra Grace Required. This is useful when referring to someone with whom you may have a personality conflict or, frankly, who is just plain irritating. They are an EGR person. I have a feeling I will be using this one frequently, especially on those days when I am taking myself too seriously!

*I am grateful for technology. From my new iPhone to RSS feeds to Tumblr to Etsy to... the list is long. And it's amazing how "behind" one can feel if you step out of the fray for a day or two or three to actually get something accomplished... like crochet... Loving the colors, the yarn, the accomplishment that granny squares can impart. I will take pictures and share soon, really.

*I am grateful for the weekend. For the peace, quiet, worship and rest it will bring. For rejuvenation for husband, for chill time with Seth (and for Seth with his buddy), and for some fun cooking projects I'm pondering for Valentine's too. (I'll keep you posted on that!).

Peace to you and yours. xo

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thursday 13: 13 videos to share

I know that these video posts are long and time-consuming, so let me just apologize for *that* at the outset. Come back when you have a moment or two to browse... there are some fun ones here. As I find new videos around the internet, I just tuck them away until I have a good supply, usually too many so I have to edit it down. These are the current "hot" videos in my file... Hope you enjoy!

1. Seven flowers.
I tucked this video away with the intention of making some paper flowers... still need to do that! I love how easy this looks.

2. All we are is ducks in the wind.
This video has made the internet rounds, so you've probably seen it... but I am always just amazed at those little ducklings picking right back up and continuing on their merry way like they didn't just get blown and tumbled about.

3. I'm a runner.
These hilarious videos from xtranormal make me laugh... well, some of them do. The ones I appreciate are (like this one) a little close to reality.

4. Kevin Bacon.
This ad is brilliant. I love an actor who can make fun of himself.

5. Two Door Cinema Club, Something Good Can Work.
This is a very new-to-me band, introduced by Seth, of course. (He's good that way.) Catchy tune, and I like the lead singer's voice too.

6. Amazing marble run.
I know some boys who would love to have this in their room!

7. The Sound of Music (horror!) trailer.
Oh what a little creative editing can do... love this one.

8. Sander Kleinenberg featuring Jamie Cullum, Remember When
This is a different sound for the velvety voiced Jamie, and I really enjoy the electronic edge.

9. Inception in real time.
I wish I could elaborate on that title more fully, but it's really beyond me. Really. Read about it here. Makes me want to see Inception again.

10. Danger!
This surfing video is really amazing. I have a hard time imagining surfing in broad daylight, let alone in the dark...

11. Wakeboarding a cranberry bog.
Beautiful and unexpected.

12. Avett Brothers, I and Love and You. 
Another song I am currently enjoying.

13. TLC promo.
I love a good parody.

So which one is your favorite video? They're all so different, I have a hard time choosing, but those ducklings to make me smile... but then, so does the Sound of Music trailer...

I hope you have a lovely Thursday.

For more Thursday 13s, go here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Duo of chocolate cakes, in time for Valentine's Day

These cakes were requested by the birthday girl a few weeks back when my good friend Megan turned 40. In planning her party, the two must-haves that rose to the top of the list were chocolate cheesecake and chocolate cake (well, and karaoke, but that's a whole 'nother story...).

I have made a birthday chocolate cheesecake for Megan a number of times over the years; her husband has picked up that tradition in recent years--what a great guy, eh?! The chocolate cake I chose (with Megan's approval) to make is an old favorite from Gale Gand, dessert queen extraordinaire. I first made it for a friend's birthday maybe almost a decade ago... but I have made it many times in the intervening years, always to "Yum!'s" and "Tasty!'s."

Either one (or both) would make a fabulous Valentine's Day treat for a dear one (or for yourself!).

Chocolate cake
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
3 cups light brown sugar, packed
4 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/3 cups sour cream
1 1/2 cups hot coffee

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
16 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature
8 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
1/2 cup cooled coffee
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 cups confectioners' sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 3 (9-inch) cake pans. Cut 3 circles of waxed paper or parchment paper to fit the bottoms of the pans, then press them in.

In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or using a hand mixer), cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and eggs and mix until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla, cocoa, baking soda and salt and mix. Add 1/2 of the flour, then 1/2 of the sour cream and mix. Repeat with the remaining flour and sour cream. Drizzle in the hot coffee and mix until smooth. The batter will be thin. Pour into the prepared pans and bake until the tops are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (a few crumbs are okay), about 35 minutes. Halfway through the baking, quickly rotate the pans in the oven to ensure even baking, but otherwise try not to open the oven. Let cool in the pan 10 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks and let cool completely before frosting.

In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Drizzle in the melted chocolate and mix. Add the coffee and vanilla and mix. Add the sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Mix until well blended and fluffy. To frost the cake, use a spatula to cover 2 of the cake layers with frosting. Stack them together. Flip the third cake layer over and rest it on the top to create a very flat top for the cake. Frost on the sides and top. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Chocolate cheesecake
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon orange-flavored liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
4 large eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Lightly butter an 8-inch round springform pan that is at least 2 inches deep.

In a heavy pot, melt the chocolate with the water and liqueur. When melted, remove from the heat and let stand until cool.

In a large mixing bowl, using a handheld elecric mixer at medium speed, beat the eggs with the sugar until well combined, 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually beat in the cream cheese, 1/4 pound at a time, until the mixture is very smooth, 5 minutes. Beat in the cooled chocolate and the vanilla. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven until the top edges of the cheesecake are puffed and golden brown, about 1 hour. Let the cake cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan to release the cheesecake from the sides (if they haven't already pulled away during the cooling process). Remove the sides of the springform, cover the cake with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. Bring to room temperature before serving, unless it is a very hot day, in which case, take it out of the fridge at the last minute and enjoy it cold.

For some reason, the cheesecake recipe above doesn't include a crust. That didn't make much sense to me, so I added one. I don't really think it's cheesecake without the crust!

2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Pulse the graham crackers in a food processor until finely crushed. Mix in a bowl with the sugar and melted butter until well combined. Pour into the sprayed or buttered springform pan and bake for 10 minutes at 350. Bring out, cool and proceed with the cheesecake.

Another change I made was adding a chocolate topping. I saw another cheesecake recipe that featured a topping, and it seemed like a way to "fancy it up" a bit.

3/4 cup whipping cream
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon sugar

Stir cream, chocolate and sugar in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until smooth. Cool slightly. Pour over center of cheesecake, spreading to within 1/2 inch of edge and filling any cracks. Chill until topping is set, about 1 hour.

I liked the effect of the topping, though it made cutting the cheesecake a tad more messy... but it's messing cutting a cheesecake anyway, so I say go for it and just keep your knife blade hot under running water and that makes all the difference!

If you are a chocolate fan, I say why wait for Valentine's or any other day? Make a cake today!

(And did you like how I used that oh-so-cheffy word "duo?" I learned that from Top Chef. Don't say watching TV isn't educational.)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ten Words Tuesday

List long, day short; I wish caffeine was available intravenously.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Daybook musings on a Monday

For today:

Outside my window... there is a bit of blue sky one way, and clouds towards the mountains. Lots of wind rode on through in the night, but not too noisy as to wake me, thankfully.

I am thinking... too much, lately. Well, not too much; maybe focused in the wrong direction? I need to DO more, contemplate my navel less.

I am thankful for... so many things, but right this very moment I am thankful for the mug of hot coffee sitting on my desk next to my laptop. (Sip.)

From the kitchen... well, yesterday was the Super Bowl, right? So that means certain indulgences... we went and watched the game with some neighbor friends and had a lovely time. I made stuffed jalapeno "poppers" and seven (or was it eight?) layer dip with chips, and they made yummy vegetarian chili and homemade bread. See, I told you it was indulgent. But wait, then I also made Nutella stuffed wontons and we had some banana cream pie that our neighbors won at a church auction--how cool is that? OK, so THAT was indulgent. I have no idea why I woke up hungry this morning!

I am wearing... the morning usual (fuzzy robe and slippers).

I am creating... dug out the crochet hooks and yarn yesterday afternoon during the football game and reminded myself how bad I am at reading and following crochet directions... also have my drawing table cleaned off and ready to return to the calligraphy practice, the pastel doodlings, etc. That feels really good, to have some space back for creativity.

I am going... to get my butt moving as soon as I'm done here... the to-do list is ready to roll for the week!

I am reading... still, Faith and Will. Apparently I need to find some will to finish it!

I am hoping... to be able to find the right words for a conversation or two I need to have this week. Hope hope hope.

I am hearing... husband getting ready for work.

Around the house... it may be cleaner than it's ever been, ever... for the next five minutes. If you want to witness this little feat of cleanliness, you better get over here, quickly.

One of my favorite things... is color. I know I say it time and again, but it's true. Color and music, my two big mood-lifters. Oh, and speaking of music, I have a handful of new tunes from my music gals to listen to this week as well. Nice!

A few plans for the rest of the week... Seth's home today after school (yipee!), there is a lot of stuff to do relative to the fundraiser next week, and maybe, just maybe, I'll actually venture out into the yard for some late-winter clean up... but only if this "warming trend" continues. If it cools down again, all bets are off. And, I am going to get going on some crafty projects, oh yeah!

Here is picture for thought I am sharing... (I am going to go check out this tutorial asap!)


What do you have on tap for the week? Whatever it is, hope you have a great one!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday night grateful moment

Inspired by Jen's resolution to always be honest on her blog in 2011 (I swear she said it, but I couldn't find the specific post to link to...), I have to say right at the outset that this week I struggled to come up with the grateful list. Not due to any particular change to circumstances this week as opposed to any other week, in fact, there is reason to be optimistic on a number of fronts--for crying out loud, spring IS coming, right? But the current freezing temperatures, the daily grind of certain realities and a couple of really crappy nights in the sleep department and here I am at Friday with a grudgingly grateful heart.

In fact, at first I was only going to post this:

But then I realized that the week wasn't THAT bad, and Buddha's little saying is a bit dramatic for my current mindset. No, my mindset is more:

But even that art piece (source) is more prescriptive than reflective.

I really should be feeling more:

 So I'll work on that... And I AM grateful.

For a clean house. Feels glorious. Normal. Ahhh.

For love and support around every curve of the road.

For a communicative and loving husband.

For cheese.
(What list is complete without cheese?)

For the promise of a new week.

For the peace among the dogs.

For my health and energy.

For amazing local food...
had a lovely apricot-almond pastry this week and a fabulous salad (or two).

For a mostly organized office, finally.

For faith. And hope.
(I already mentioned love, but I could mention it again, I suppose... it's that lovely, love.)

For Top Chef All Stars.
What can I say, the Isaac Mizrahi quickfire was hilarious (No tasting? Bizarre). And Anthony Bourdain is proving himself a rockstar judge. (Not that I'm surprised, just glad to see they're keeping him around and using him more and more.)

For sleep.
(I'm putting out all kinds of vibes to the universe for some major sleeping in this weekend.)

For words.
I have been grumpy with words recently, having my own words turned back on me and twisted nastily. Made me feel "ugh" about words for a moment. But the truth is the truth, and it will prevail. (Eventually.) And between now and then, I won't give up on seeing words as powerful tools to convey thought, meaning, emotion...

Here are some that especially inspired me this week (besides Wednesday's post):
The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death. -Thomas Paine

That passage reminded me of two men I "encountered" this week, both from the same era: King George VI (I saw The King's Speech this week and loved it!) and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, whose birthday it is today. The Writer's Almanac had a little bio on Dietrich today, and when I was reminded that he was killed so close to the surrender of Germany... sadness.

For my son, and his endearing ways.

For friends and laughter.

For peaceful and quiet Friday nights.

May your weekend bring you all the joy you can handle.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Midweek inspiration: I am the captain of my soul

I stumbled up on this Victorian poem by accident recently. I haven't seen Invictus, actually had no idea where the title of that movie even came from. But I'm all over it now; queued up in Netflix! (Take a look at this clip, and I bet it will be in your Netflix queue too if you haven't already seen it.)

A little research about the origins of the poem led me to the video below of Leonard Cohen; he's got a great voice for these lines, for sure.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
-William Earnest Henley

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